The UPSTART project is proposed in House Bill 1101. It is a “virtual” school bill for preschoolers. The bill appears to be written for the Waterford Institute, which has a program in Utah almost identical to that described in HB 1101. The bill requires that the state (the MS Department of Education) provide free computers to any qualifying family that the Waterford Institute signs up for its online preschool program. The company claims that the program is a success, but there has been no independent research done on the effects of the program – only their own “surveys.” Early childhood experts who have reviewed the UPSTART program identify numerous flaws, including letter sounds being modeled incorrectly. Research has shown other Waterford programs to be ineffective.
To see a review of the Waterford Institute’s Early Reading Level One™ by the U.S. Department of Education, click here. The evaluation found that the program yielded no discernable effects.
The U.S. Department of Education also reviewed another of Waterford’s products, the Waterford Early Reading Program, and found that over a two-year period, the results were statistically insignificant. To view an excerpt from the study, click here.